March 23, 2011
Speaking of jackets, here's Japanese cabinet member and former fashion model Renho (married name: Murata, but she goes just by "Renho," the Japanese pronunciation of her Chinese name; her father is Taiwanese) sporting a turtleneck combo.
Renho started her modeling career while in law school. Japan is famous for having far fewer lawyers per person than the U.S., the result not just of culture, but of an incredibly demanding law school admissions process and one of the world's toughest bar exams. In other words, she's a lot more than just another pretty face.
Renho currently has two ministries in her portfolio: "Consumer Affairs and Food Safety" and "Government Revitalization." Before the quake, she was known mostly for the latter.
She had been conducting hearings similar to the U.S. Debt Commission, and is a lot tougher than her American counterparts. In a famous exchange about Japan's supercomputer project with a bureaucrat who insisted that Japan had to "number one" in the world, she pointedly asked, "What's wrong with being number two?"
Her dead-pan delivery was even better, between the lines saying, "And the taxpayers should fund this little pissing contest of yours, why?"
When it comes to supercomputers, being "number one" is a title as ephemeral as a mayfly. Not to mention that, in GDP terms, Japan has twice as much structural debt as the U.S., and going to have tons more. Wherever Japan is headed fiscally after this, the U.S. won't be far behind. We should watch and learn.